Oil markets open slightly lower as market weighs mixed supply signals

Oil futures were down slightly Thursday morning, after rising sharply in the first half of the week, as traders weighed a larger-than-expected build in US oil stocks against tightening global supply.

Brent futures were down 38 cents, or 0.35%, at $ 108.38 a barrel, and US West Texas Intermediate futures were down 58 cents, or 0.56%, to $ 10.65 a barrel at 0046 GMT.

Both contracts on Wednesday had shrugged off a large build in US crude inventories to end the trading session roughly 4% higher. The jump in prices came as worries of more disruptions to global supply continued to rattle the market.

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The International Energy Agency on Wednesday warned that from May onwards roughly 3 million barrels per day of Russian oil could be shut-in due to sanctions or voluntary embargoes.

At the same time, major global trading houses are also planning to curtail crude and fuel purchases from Russia`s state-controlled oil companies in May, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

Despite signals that global supply disruption will persist, oil stocks in the US rose by more than 9 million barrels last week, the US Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday, driven in part by releases from the nation`s strategic reserves. Analysts in a Reuters poll had anticipated just an 863,000-barrel build.

US gasoline stocks fell 3.6 million barrels last week, far above anticipated levels, and distillate inventories also declined.

Oil prices are looking very comfortable above the $ 100 level as US and Chinese demand seems to be heading in the right direction, & quot; wrote Edward Moya, a senior analyst with OANDA.

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Oil futures were down slightly Thursday morning, after rising sharply in the first half of the week, as traders weighed a larger-than-expected build in US oil stocks against tightening global supply. Brent futures were down 38 cents, or 0.35%, at $ 108.38 a barrel, and US West Texas Intermediate futures were down 58 cents, or…

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